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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Deidre Knight, Council Grove Life Center

Fun and fitness. Those two elements go together at the Council Grove Life Center, where the goal is to make rural life fun, entertaining, and long-lasting.

The Council Grove Life Center in Council Grove, Kansas has an indoor swimming pool, fitness studio, workout equipment, racquetball courts and more.

Deidre Knight is executive director of the Council Grove Life Center, a community fitness center in Council Grove. Deidre grew up in Salina and studied Family Studies and Human Services at K-State. She also met her husband, who grew up on a farm near the rural community of Alta Vista, population 444 people. Now, that’s rural.

Deidre and her husband moved to Kansas City after graduation. They eventually  moved back to Council Grove where she became the director of the Council Grove Life Center.

“There were two men who wanted to play racquetball,” Deidre said. There were no racquetball courts that they could use in Council Grove, so they started thinking about building some. The idea soon grew into the more holistic approach of a comprehensive fitness center for the community. “There was a real need to have a place for indoor activities during the winter,” Deidre said.

CGLC Inc. was organized as a non-profit, tax exempt corporation to operate the fitness center. Local foundations stepped up to provide private funding to build the center, along with several local individuals and businesses plus two large gifts from anonymous donors.

Council Grove happens to have multiple foundations based in the community. The Bill Young Trust donated land. Financial support came from the Arthur M. Hylton and Ethel L. Hylton Trust, Oscar and Ina Nystrom, the John E. Trembly Foundation, and more.

“We are terribly spoiled but incredibly grateful to have these foundations in the community,” Deidre said. Monthly, semi-annual and annual memberships provide ongoing support for the center. “No tax dollars were spent on the construction of the CGLC and no taxes will be levied for its operation,” Deidre said.

In 2005, the 10,000-square-foot center was constructed in Council Grove. The facility includes an indoor swimming pool, a full-sized gym, cardio area with strength machines, free weights, mirrored fitness studio, and – oh yeah – a racquetball court. In addition, a day care center operates next door.

“Our programs range from Silver Sneakers for retirees to something called Insanity,” Deidre said. In addition to the weekend hours, the facility is open each weekday from 4:30 in the morning till 10 at night. That seems like a lot of hours, and it seems to start very early, but this accommodates the schedule of their members. “Thirty percent of our daily attendance comes in that 4 to 5 a.m. hour, so people can get in a workout and then take care of the kids or get to work,” Deidre said.

Beside individual workouts, there are a number of classes with trainers. For example, there are three types of yoga plus classes with names like Aqua Burn, Silver Splash, Water Flow, Pickleball, Circuit, Water Works, and the aforementioned Insanity. (I think Water Flow sounds a whole lot easier than Insanity.)

There are also programs such as hoops club, youth basketball clinics, a men’s basketball league, coed volleyball, and more. The center partners with the local hospital to make the pool available for those who need water-based rehabilitation after surgery, for example. In the summer, the center does programs for the kids in the summer food service program and then hosts an end-of-summer party.

The facility is also available for rent for private parties. There is even a community coffee room where people can congregate after workouts, for example.

“It’s important to have amenities for the community and to attract people,” Deidre said.  “We promote connectivity and the rural lifestyle.” The center has more than 1,100 members and some 22,000 visits each year.

For more information, see www.cglifecenter.com.

Is fitness fun? At the Council Grove Life Center, Deidre Knight and her staff are striving to make it so. We salute Deidre Knight and all those involved with the Council Grove Life Center for making a difference by providing this wonderful facility. By helping people in this rural region have fun, they are definitely a good fit.

Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.

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